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FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Programs

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What is hazard mitigation and how is it beneficial?

After disasters, repair work typically involves restoring damaged facilities to pre-disaster conditions. However, subsequent disasters often result in similar damage.  By implementing mitigation measures, utilities can reduce or eliminate the loss of life, property, essential services, critical facilities (e.g., utilities) and minimize the time and costs of recovery.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Funding Programs

  1. Why should you first develop a hazard mitigation plan?
  2. What programs are available to fund mitigation projects/activities?
  3. Who can apply for these mitigation funding programs?
  4. What is the difference between the mitigation provisions in the FEMA Public Assistance Program
    (406 Mitigation) and the HMGP Program (404 Mitigation)?

1. Why should you first develop a hazard mitigation plan?

Hazard mitigation is a continual process that begins with planning. If your community does not already have a hazard mitigation plan, key officials from your utility should be involved in developing your community's plan. Utility input into such plans is often a prerequisite for obtaining hazard mitigation funds for utility projects. Hazard mitigation plans document essential services and critical facilities, describe potential hazards, and identify projects that may mitigate the damage to these services and facilities. Utilities should confirm with their local government officials and their state's hazard mitigation officer to ensure that critical utility infrastructure, equipment, and facilities are included in their community's hazard mitigation plan.

2. What programs are available to fund mitigation projects/activities?

FEMA has five programs that fund hazard mitigation projects. These programs may be beneficial to water and wastewater utilities. Some may be implemented before a disaster strikes (referred to as pre-disaster mitigation) and others after a disaster is declared (referred to as post-disaster mitigation). FEMA's disaster mitigation funding programs include:

  1. Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) (PDF) (1 pg 50K, About PDF)
  2. Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) (PDF) (2 pp, 57K, About PDF)
  3. Public Assistance Grant Program (PAGP) (PDF) (2 pp, 98K, About PDF)
  4. Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA) (PDF) (1 pg, 50K, About PDF) and
  5. Repetitive Flood Claims Program (RFC) (PDF) (1 pg, 51K, About PDF)

FEMA can fund up to 75% of the eligible costs of each mitigation project. The state or grantee (e.g., utility) must provide a 25% match, which can be fashioned from a combination of cash, in-kind sources, or materials. Funding from other federal sources cannot be used for the 25% share with one exception. Funding provided to states under the Community Development Block Grant program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development can be used to meet the non-federal share requirement. Grants awarded to small impoverished communities may receive a federal cost share of up to 90% of the total amount approved to implement eligible approved activities.

The last two programs can be used to mitigate facilities that are insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Note that Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) does not require previous claims, but that in order to be eligible for the RFC utilities must have one or more prior claim payments. Each program has specific eligibility, project, and funding requirements that may affect potential applicants, so it is important that utilities review each program.

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3. Who can apply for these mitigation funding programs?

Hazard mitigation funding provided by FEMA is available to a variety of water and wastewater utilities. The table below summarizes the eligibility of different categories of utilities for FEMA hazard mitigation assistance funding. Click the following link to access a printable copy of FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program Eligibility for Water and Wastewater Utilities (PDF) (1 pg, 48K, About PDF).

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program Eligibility for Water and Wastewater Utilities
FEMA Program
Eligibility for FEMA Program
Publicly Owned1 Private Not for Profit (PNP) Private for Profit
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM) YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2 No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA) YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2 No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Repetitive Flood Claims Program (RFC) YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2 No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) YES YES No, but Local Government can apply on utility's behalf2
Public Assistance Grant Program (PAGP) YES YES NO
1 Publicly owned utilities typically are part of a local government or municipality and any subapplications are submitted as a part of the local government's subapplication packet.

2 While not usually an eligible subapplicant for this program, PNP and PFP utilities that are considered critical infrastructure (such as those that are sole service providers for an area) may be able to get their local governments to apply on their behalf. For more information, please contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer.

It is important to remember that in terms of FEMA funding, the "applicant" is the state, territory, commonwealth, or Indian tribal government. The applicant is responsible for soliciting subapplications, assisting in their preparation, and submitting them to FEMA. FEMA grant funds are awarded to applicants. In general, the "subapplicant" is the local government that owns/operates the utility or an eligible PNP utility that submits a subapplication for FEMA assistance to the applicant. Eligible PFPs would be required to have local government officials apply on their behalf and would not technically be an applicant or subapplicant. If funding is awarded, the subapplicant becomes the "subgrantee" and is responsible for managing the subgrant and complying with program requirements and other applicable federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local laws and regulations.

To submit a subapplication, utilities should contact the state hazard mitigation office of their state or territory (e.g., the office that has primary emergency management or floodplain management responsibility) or Indian tribal government.

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4. What is the difference between the mitigation provisions in the FEMA Public Assistance Program (406 Mitigation) and the HMGP Program (404 Mitigation)?

In general, the differences between the 404 and 406 mitigation programs can be summed up by the table below.

Differences between FEMA Mitigation Projects under FEMA Public Assistance and FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
(404 Mitigation)
FEMA Public Assistance Program
(406 Mitigation)
A separate grant program that is funded by FEMA but is administered by state officials in locations that have been declared part of a Federal Disaster DeclarationThe President can declare a Major Disaster Declaration for any natural event (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind driven snowstorm, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landside, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought) or regardless of cause any fire, flood, or explosion that the President believes has caused damage of such severity and magnitude that it is beyond the combined capabilities of State and local governments and disaster relief organizations to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of Federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work. region. Is implemented through the FEMA PA Program, is not standalone and is in conjunction with FEMA PA Program restoration and recovery programs.
Can be used throughout the state in most disasters, on damaged and non-damaged facilities for the purpose of hazard mitigation. Can only be used to fund hazard mitigation on the damaged element of a facility to prevent future damage. The mitigation work must be cost-effective and be reasonably performed as part of the work or measure that will reduce the potential for damage to a facility from a disaster event.

The key is that one program addresses mitigation of facilities that were damaged during a Presidential disaster (406 mitigation) and the other addresses mitigation of facilities that were not damaged during a Presidential disaster, but are vulnerable to damage in a future disaster (404 mitigation). Sometimes, both mitigation programs can be combined; for example, if utility pumps were damaged during a recent flood disaster (Section 406) and a key culvert was threatened with damage during the flood (Section 404).

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Mitigation Projects for Water/Wastewater Utilities

What are some example mitigation projects for water/wastewater utilities?
Examples of mitigation projects for utilities include:

  • Flooded generators - elevating generators and electrical service panels
  • Washed out culverts - upsizing culverts to better handle flood surges
  • Flooded electrical equipment - providing flood protection around an electrical substation and transformers
  • Earthquake pipe damage - seismic retrofitting of pipes with flexible joints
  • Scoured raw water intakes - buttressing raw water intakes to prevent damage from erosion, scour and flood debris
  • Flood damaged pumps - replacing pumps with submersible or inline pumps

FEMA classifies mitigation projects into one of six general categories according to the overarching "theme" for the project. For water and wastewater utilities, there are numerous projects that can be conducted under each category and projects may be classified under more than one category. The table below outlines the six FEMA categories as well as some common water and wastewater utility mitigation projects for each.

Example Mitigation Projects for Water/Wastewater Utilities
FEMA Category Example Utility Projects
Preventive Measures Replacing dry well sewer pumps with submersible pumps
Building elevated platforms for electrical service panels
Raising electrical controls above the base flood elevation
Property Protection Flood proofing and wind proofing facilities
Elevation of facilities
Elevation of electrical systems
Emergency Services Measures Elevation of generators and associated fuel tanks to keep a facility operational during power outages
Upsizing culverts to better handle flood surges
Retrofitting sanitary sewer lift stations with electrical connections for portable generators
Structural Projects Providing flood protection around an electrical substation and transformers
Building elevated platforms for electrical service panels
Seismic retrofitting of pipes with flexible joints
Natural Resource Protection Bank stabilization projects that protect adjacent infrastructure from damage, such as installation of rip rap and filter fabric
Vegetation management projects to improve drainage of stormwater
Wetland restoration to prevent stormwater and sewer backups
Public Information Installation of a contamination warning system

FEMA has funded a number of hazard mitigation projects for water and wastewater utilities. Click the link to see a table of Successful Mitigation Projects Submitted by Water/Wastewater Utilities. The information on the mitigation projects is taken from FEMA.

Please note that there is no guarantee that similar projects will be funded, as decisions surrounding funding are made on a case-by-case basis and based on the availability of funds.

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Determining Cost-Effective Mitigation Projects

FEMA requires hazard mitigation projects to be cost-effective.

  1. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program?
  2. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's other hazard mitigation programs?

1. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program?

The mitigation component (Section 406) under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program has a list of potential mitigation measures specifically for water and wastewater utilities that are pre-determined by FEMA to be cost-effective (see table below). Click the following link to access a printable copy of Mitigation Projects Considered Cost-Effective by FEMA for Water/Wastewater Utilities (PDF) (1 pg 17K, About PDF).

Mitigation Projects Considered Cost-Effective by FEMA for Water/Wastewater Utilities
General Project Area Project Type Project Description
Sanitary and storm sewer systems Access covers When feasible, access covers can be elevated to the hydraulic grade line. There are a number of devices that prevent infiltration into access holes.
Sewer lines Repair, lining, or encasement of damaged sections to prevent infiltration or structural collapse.
Pump stations Equipment or controls in a pump station that are subject to damage from a 100-year flood can be elevated. Pump station buildings can be dry flood-proofed.
Installation of camlocks, transfer switches, and electrical panels to facilitate the connection of portable emergency generators.
If pumps and their attached motors are damaged by storm water inundation, replace them with submersible or inline pumps as appropriate.
If pump station equipment is damaged as a result of inundation resulting from power failure, install switches, circuit isolation and quick connect capability to facilitate rapid connection of backup power.
Wastewater treatment plants WWTP facilities If pump station equipment is damaged as a result of inundation resulting from power failure, install switches, circuit isolation and quick connect capability to facilitate rapid connection of backup power.
Elevation of equipment and controls that can be elevated easily.
Dry or wet flood-proofing of buildings.
Potable water Well systems Reduction of infiltration and subsequent contamination of the aquifer. Methods include casing the well or raising the elevation of the well head.
Elevation of controls, mechanical equipment, or electrical service associated with use of the well to protect them from flood damage.
Raw water intakes Buttressing to prevent damage from erosion, scour and flood debris.
Water treatment plants Elevation of equipment and controls that can be elevated easily.
Dry flood-proofing.
Piping / Water mains Underground pipelines Installation of shut-off valves so that damaged sections of pipeline can be isolated.
Flexible piping Installation of flexible piping at pipe/conduit connections to equipment to accommodate expected movement in an earthquake.

The list above is cost-effective if the measures:

  • Do not exceed 100% of project cost
  • Are appropriate to the disaster damage
  • Will prevent similar damage in the future
  • Are directly related to the eligible damaged elements
  • Do not increase risks or cause adverse effects to the property or elsewhere
  • Are technically feasible for the hazard and location,
  • Otherwise meet requirements as stipulated in FEMA's policy, including environmental, historic, and mitigation planning considerations

For additional information about mitigation measures that are predetermined to be cost-effective, please visit the FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy 9526.1.

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2. How do you determine if a hazard mitigation project is cost-effective under FEMA's other hazard mitigation programs?

For FEMA's other hazard mitigation programs discussed earlier (e.g., PDM, HMGP, FMA, and RFC), FEMA requires a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to determine cost-effectiveness. Applicants and subapplicants must use FEMA-approved methodologies and software to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of their projects. FEMA has developed a BCA tool to facilitate the process of preparing a BCA.The tool consists of guidelines, methodologies, and software modules for a range of major natural hazards. The FEMA BCA tool and technical guides are available in the Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit. To get the latest version of the BC Toolkit you can:

Additional details about how BCA fits into formulating a project is discussed in the section: Planning for Mitigation Measures - Project Formulation.

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Application Process, Forms, Checklist of Activities

How does the FEMA Hazard Mitigation application process work?

The application process for the mitigation component (Section 406) under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program is provided under the "Mitigation Funding" topic area (green accordion) in the Fed FUNDS FEMA Public Assistance Grant Program section.

Under the other FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants (e.g., PDM, HMGP, FMA, and RFC), eligible applicants (states/tribes/territories) provide subgrants to local governments (which could include utilities). The applicant selects and prioritizes applications developed and submitted to it by local jurisdictions to submit to FEMA for consideration of funding. Utilities, along with the local government applying on their behalf, are considered subapplicants under these FEMA HMA programs.

FEMA has developed procedures to assist applicants applying for funding under FEMA's HMA grant programs for several project types. The purpose of these procedures is to provide guidance to applicants and subapplicants regarding collection of the administrative and technical data that FEMA requires. The Procedures for Developing Scopes of Work listed below are available from the FEMA Library:

In addition, FEMA's Project Tip Sheet (checklist of activities) is available for use when developing project subapplications.

Applicants applying for funding under Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA), or Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC) must use FEMA's web-based Mitigation Electronic Grants Management System (MT eGrants) to submit their HMA applications. HMGP applications are submitted by the applicant to FEMA via National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS). A NEMIS-MT User Manual is available from the FEMA Library. A NEMIS-MT FAQ section is also available on the FEMA website.

Additional information for FEMA mitigation project development, pre-award requirements, FEMA mitigation policy, and application guidance is available on the Grant Applicant Resources Web page.

Prospective subapplicants should consult the official designated point of contact for their applicant for further information regarding specific program and application requirements:

FEMA Regional Offices

State Hazard Mitigation Officers

State National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Coordinators

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Planning for Mitigation Measures - Project Formulation

  1. What is included in a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant application or subapplication?
  2. What does a "detailed Scope of Work (SOW)" consist of?
  3. What should a mitigation project cost estimate include?
  4. What are some common methods of estimating project costs for mitigation projects?

1. What is included in a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant application or subapplication?

In general, FEMA HMA applications or subapplications include, but are not limited to:

  • A detailed scope of work (SOW), including the location, purpose, objective(s), approach, feasibility, expected outcomes, and benefits of the activity

  • A work schedule for all tasks identified in the SOW

  • A cost estimate and narrative that describe all anticipated costs associated with the SOW and that identify source(s) and amounts of non-federal cost share contribution(s)

  • A complete and well-documented benefit-cost analysis (BCA)

  • Appropriate documentation to support the determination of feasibility and effectiveness, including a demonstration of conformance with accepted engineering practices, established codes, standards, modeling techniques, or best practices

  • Sufficient information about potential impacts on environmental resources and/or historic properties in the project area

An applicable resource for utilities that are interested in how to formulate mitigation projects is the Procedures for Developing Scopes of Work for Protective Measures Retrofit Projects for Utility, Water, and Sanitary Systems and Infrastructure document that was produced by FEMA. This document outlines in easy-to-understand steps how to formulate a mitigation project that is specific to water utilities.

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2. What does a "detailed Scope of Work (SOW)" consist of?

The SOW provides detailed information about the project, as well as applicable references and supporting documentation. The SOW includes:

  • Purpose of the project. The intended outcome or objectives of the project consistent with the local or tribal mitigation plan. In other words, what is the utility trying to mitigate? What does the utility want to prevent from occurring or reoccurring?

  • Clear, concise description of the proposed project. Make sure that items such as proposed conceptual design, means of implementation of the project, means of construction of the structure, and responsible party for implementation are included.

  • Identification of properties to be mitigated. Make sure that FEMA has a way to identify and locate the property. For locations without addresses, include GPS coordinates.

  • Outcomes. What are the proposed project accomplishments, problem(s) that the project will solve, parties that will directly or indirectly benefit from the project, and ways that the risks of damage or harm will be reduced?

  • Photographs. Photographs of the site location or structures to be mitigated.

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3. What should a mitigation project cost estimate include?

The cost estimate includes all of the anticipated costs associated with the SOW for the proposed mitigation activity. Cost estimates must include the following:

  • Detailed estimates of various cost item categories such as labor, materials, equipment, and subcontractor costs. No lump-sum estimates will be accepted by FEMA.

  • Explanation and documentation demonstrating how the cost estimate was developed and the basis for each cost element, such as salary and fringe benefit rates for personnel, bids from qualified professionals, and costs established in nationally published or local cost estimating guides. If a cost estimate is based on a contractor's bid or historic costs from another activity, detailed documentation as outlined above still must be provided.

Detailed cost estimates for mitigation projects can be developed using similar methods that are used to develop cost estimates for Public Assistance Grants. For additional information on cost estimating, please review the Procedures for Developing Scopes of Work for Protective Measures Retrofit Projects for Utility, Water, and Sanitary Systems and Infrastructure document that was produced by FEMA and the FY11 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance document.

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4. What are some common methods of estimating project costs for mitigation projects?

The two most common methods of estimating project costs are time and materials and competitively bid contracts.

  • Time and materials estimates are used for force account work. This method may be used on projects that will be completed by your employees, using your own (or rented) equipment and material purchased by you (or from your stock on hand). This method breaks costs down into labor, equipment, and materials. Costs must be thoroughly documented by payroll information, equipment logs or usage records, and other records, such as materials invoices, receipts, payment vouchers, warrants, or work orders.

  • Competitively bid contracts are used to summarize costs for work that the applicant has obtained from an outside source. In general, contract costs are for work already completed, but in some cases may outline work that is just beginning or still underway. If work has not yet begun on a project, but a contract has been bid or let for the eligible work, then the contract price can be used. General types of contracts include:
    • Unit Price - Contract for work done on an itemized basis with prices broken out per unit.
    • Lump Sum - Contract for work within a prescribed boundary with a clearly defined scope and a total price.
    • Cost Plus Fixed Fee - Either a lump sum or unit price contract with a fixed contractor fee added into the price.

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Key to Participating in Mitigation Programs

  1. Are there any other overall tips about applying for FEMA mitigation funding?
  2. Does FEMA provide assistance with HMA Grant applications?

1. Are there any other overall tips about applying for FEMA mitigation funding?

The most important tip for water/wastewater utilities applying for FEMA mitigation funding is to contact your local emergency planning officials to ensure that critical utility infrastructure has been included in the local hazard mitigation plan (HMP). If your community has not created a local hazard mitigation plan (or is not part of a regional hazard mitigation plan), lobby your local emergency management officials to develop and implement one. ( Did you know that FEMA will pay 75% of the costs associated with developing a HMP? ). Utilities should work with local officials during the subsequent development and implementation of the HMP.

Additionally, utilities should meet and work closely with their State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) . The SHMO is the "gate keeper" of mitigation funding for each state and will work with utilities to develop and submit sub-applications to FEMA for mitigation funding. For those utilities that require technical assistance with engineering/design work, the SHMO is able to work with FEMA to secure assistance, free of charge, for utilities.

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2. Does FEMA provide assistance with HMA Grant applications?

Technical assistance for HMA Grant Programs is available for applicants and subapplicants. FEMA has also established Technical Assistance Helplines to provide assistance to applicants and subapplicants with engineering feasibility and effectiveness; benefit-cost analysis (BCA), including BCA software, technical manuals, and other BCA references; and environmental/historic preservation compliance for project subapplications.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also provides several helplines to request assistance. These Helplines can be reached via phone at (866) 222-3580 or by email as listed below. The Helplines guarantee a 48-hour response time.

Additionally, utilities interested in applying for FEMA HMA Grants should contact their State Hazard Mitigation Officer who can also provide technical assistance and project-specific information that FEMA may be unable to provide.

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